On 22nd September 2008 the Staatskapelle Dresden celebrated its 460th jubilee. Founded by Prince Elector Moritz von Sachsen in 1548, it is one of the oldest orchestras in the world and steeped in tradition. Over its long history many distinguished conductors and internationally celebrated instrumentalists have left their mark on this one-time court orchestra.
Previous directors include Heinrich Schütz, Johann Adolf Hasse, Carl Maria von Weber and Richard Wagner, who called the ensemble his »miraculous harp«. The list of prominent conductors of the last 100 years includes Ernst von Schuch, Fritz Reiner, Fritz Busch, Karl Böhm, Joseph Keilberth, Rudolf Kempe, Otmar Suitner, Kurt Sanderling, Herbert Blomstedt and Giuseppe Sinopoli. The orchestra was directed by Bernard Haitink from 2002-04 and most recently by Fabio Luisi from 2007-10. Christian Thielemann began the post of Principal Conductor of the Staatskapelle in the 2012/2013 season. Sir Colin Davis has been the orchestra’s Conductor Laureate since 1990. The current season also sees the introduction of the new position of Principal Guest Conductor, whose first holder will be Myung-Whun Chung.
Richard Strauss and the Staatskapelle were closely linked for more than sixty years. Nine of the composer’s operas were premiered in Dresden, including »Salome«, »Elektra« and »Der Rosenkavalier«, while Strauss’s »Alpine Symphony« was dedicated to the orchestra.
Countless other famous composers have written works either dedicated to the orchestra or first performed in Dresden. In 2007 the Staatskapelle reaffirmed this tradition by introducing the annual position of »Capell-Compositeur«, successively held by composers Isabel Mundry, Bernhard Lang, Rebecca Saunders, Johannes Maria Staud and Lera Auerbach. The Capell-Compositeur for the 2012/2013 season is Hans Werner Henze.
The Staatskapelle’s home is the Semperoper, where it performs around 260 operas and ballets each season. In addition the ensemble presents another 50 symphonic and chamber concerts in the opera house, as well as playing at various musical events in Dresden’s Frauenkirche. As one of the world’s most celebrated and popular symphony orchestras, the Staatskapelle regularly travels abroad to the world’s leading classical venues.
From 2013 the Staastskapelle Dresden will be the resident orchestra of the Salzburg Easter Festival, whose artistic director will be no otherthan Christian Thielemann.
The Staatskapelle also does valuable work to support the local region: Since October 2008 it has been the patron orchestra of Meetingpoint Music Messiaen in the double city of Görlitz-Zgorzelec. And in September 2010 the orchestra helped found the International Shostakovich Festival in Gohrisch (Saxon Switzerland), which is the only such annual event dedicated to the music and life of Dmitri Shostakovich.
At a ceremony in Brussels in 2007 the Staatskapelle became the first – and so far only – orchestra to be awarded the »European Prize for the Preservation of the World’s Musical Heritage«.
Volkswagen’s Transparent Factory has been a partner of the Staatskapelle Dresden since 2008.